Jeff Stoughton is the Manitoba men’s curling champion for the 11th time.
Stoughton defeated provincial rival Mike McEwen 8-3 Sunday afternoon in the final of the Safeway Manitoba men’s curling championship at MTS Iceplex.
It was Stoughton’s 11th Manitoba men’s title in 12 trips to the final and the third time he has beaten McEwen in the final since 2010.
With the victory, Stoughton and his team of third Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers and lead Mark Nichols will represent Manitoba at the Brier in Kamloops, B.C., March 1-9.
"It’s pretty exciting to be able to go back to a place where he had some good history," said Stoughton, who won the first of his three Briers in Kamloops in 1996. "Hopefully that building is packed and we’re having a great time."
Stoughton said there was a special satisfaction in winning this title after having celebrated a milestone birthday in the past year.
"It’s kind of cool to be a 50-year-old and get to go to the Brier," said Stoughton. "The guys keep bugging me. I get good deals in the buffet line."
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for McEwen, who has now appeared in four of the last five provincial men’s curling finals and lost them all.
"I don’t know if they get harder. It gets more aggravating," McEwen said after the game. "They’re a great team. I’m not going to take anything away from how they played. But we’re a great team too and I think we deserve to be on the national level.
"But we’ve got a giant to go through in Manitoba. That’s the way it is. It’s just a massive amount of patience on our part and we’re going to have to wait longer."
This year’s final turned on the very first end when a miscue by McEwen third B.J. Neufeld triggered a chain of events that turned what was setting up to be a McEwen steal opportunity into a three-ender for Stoughton.
McEwen never recovered and trailed 5-1 after the fourth end. His team continued to battle and had narrowed Stoughton’s lead to 5-3 after the seventh end, only to give up another three-ender in the eighth end that prompted handshakes.